2022 Kastle FX 96 Ti Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2022 Kastle FX 96 Ti Ski Review

A couple years ago, Kastle made a drastic change to their FX line of freeride skis. We got new shapes, new construction, and it was really quite the departure from the previous skis. If you need a refresher on those changes, you can review our Ski Test results from both 2020 and 2021. One of the most significant changes was the removal of metal. The previous FX96 HP had two sheets of metal in its construction. For 2020, with the new shape, Kastle went to a wood core with 3 different types of wood wrapped in fiberglass and carbon. We talked quite a bit about how the changes to the shape retained good edge grip and how the new construction still delivered good vibration damping, while the real benefit of dropping the metal was a lighter overall ski. The 2020 version carried over to 2021, meaning Kastle has had a couple years of development, and for 2022 they’re ready with some new tweaks to the FX96.?

Interestingly, we get metal back in the ski. Now, before we get into details or performance, I think that raises an interesting question. Should the 2020 version have had metal? I don’t think it’s necessarily that simple. The build of the 2020/21 ski was a lot of fun. We put some big skiers on it, and they didn’t find it lacked stability for them. The best way to think about it is that Kastle probably wanted to put metal in that ski, or at least thought about doing so, but weren’t sure they could keep the weight where they wanted it. After a couple of years of development, however, they seem to have figured it out. Also, who knows, we could be way off on that assumption. The important thing is there’s metal back in the FX96, and it’s now called the FX96 Ti.

AT A GLANCE


2022 Kastle FX 96 Ti Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

164, 172, 180, 188 cm

18.1 m at 180 cm

133 / 96 / 119 mm

Poplar, Beech, Paulownia, Fiberglass, Titanal

Stability, Versatility, Vibration Damping


Now, Kastle lists the weight of the new ski at 1935 g in the 180 cm length and the previous ski at 1890 g in the same length. So, on paper, the new ski is almost as light as the ski without metal, which is really impressive. We’ll run through it in detail in a second, but it has 2 sheets of metal in it. Replacing fiberglass and carbon with 2 sheets of metal and retaining a similar weight is pretty crazy. But wait! We happen to have both versions in our warehouse right now, and we brought them both up into our studio for filming. Picking them up, we couldn’t help but notice that the new ski felt lighter. We put them on a digital shipping scale and, hey, wait a minute, the new ski came to 1908 g while the previous ski tipped the scales to 1946 g. Now, every ski isn’t going to weigh exactly the same as the other due to slight variations in construction, but at least the skis in our warehouse are lighter, and regardless of whether that’s an outlier or not, the important thing is they’re certainly not significantly heavier.

So, how does Kastle build the ski? In a lot of ways, very similarly to how they did before. We get the same blend of different types of wood with poplar and beech making up the raised central portion of the ski and lighter weight poplar and paulownia along the edges. Instead of the fiberglass and carbon sock that we got on the previous version, there’s a layer of fiberglass both above and below the core, then a sheet of metal above and below the core. While Kastle doesn’t list this information, we’d venture a guess that the metal is thinner than what’s in their MX skis, which helps keep the weight down and also affects the flex of the ski, which we’ll get to. Then, of course, we get the classic Kastle Hollowtech tip, which is now the third generation of Hollowtech.

2022 Kastle FX 96 Ti Ski Review: Camber Profile Image

The shape actually stays exactly the same as the 2020/21 ski: 96 mm underfoot, an Elliptical Radius which averages out to 18.1 m in the 180 cm length, and the same tip and tail dimensions. Kastle refers to the tip and tail shape as Hook Free Shovel and Hook Free Tail. It’s a very modern shape with not so much early taper that the ski would feel short, but enough that it’s not catchy and you never feel completely locked into a turn. We get Dual Rise rocker too, although it’s much longer in the tip. The tail rocker is so short and abrupt that it almost looks like the ski is going to keep rising into a twin tip shape, but then someone came by and just lopped off the end of it. There’s also a little skin attachment point on the tail, which might actually be the reason why they did flatten it out and didn’t extend it into more of a rounded, twin tip shape. Rounded tails don’t hold skins very well, and a precision-oriented manufacturer like Kastle doesn’t want you touring with your skins flapping around behind you.

Those are the changes, and while we think that stuff’s super interesting, we know most of you probably came here to learn about performance. Simply put, the new ski is stiffer, stronger, and overall, more stable at speed. The previous ski certainly wasn’t bad in this category, but the Ti version takes it to the next level. Interestingly, our lighter weight skiers and testers never commented on a lack of stability in the HP version, but some of our heavier skiers, like Bob St.Pierre, found that they could over-flex the tip from time to time if their weight got too far forward. Hand flexing the skis side by side, you can feel how much stiffer the tip is. That means you can push this ski quite a bit harder than the previous version, and we think that difference will be amplified by skier size and level of aggressiveness. The bigger the skier and the faster you ski, the more difference you’ll feel. Lighter, less aggressive skiers could potentially ski both back-to-back and say something like “I don’t know what you’re talking about, they feel very similar,” but I think even those lighter skiers would feel a difference in vibration damping.

2022 Kastle FX 96 Ti Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 1 2022 Kastle FX 96 Ti Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 2

Now, this new ski is pretty similar in with to the MX98, which also uses two sheets of metal. At times, if we go way back to the FX96 HP, I personally felt there were arguably too many similarities between the FX and MX line. They fixed that in 2020 when they drastically changed the FX line, and I think even though they added the two sheets of metal back, they’re still differentiating these lines. Skis like the MX98 feel locked into carves a lot of the time. They’re incredibly precise and quite demanding when you want to release the tail edge. The Dual Rise, Hook Free shape, and overall shape of the FX, however, allows you to play around with turn shapes much more easily. You’re in complete control over what the ski is doing, rather than feeling like you’re along for a Super G ride on a 98 mm ski. We also think the way they use lighter materials along the edges helps with this. You don’t lose too much torsional stiffness when you want to carve, but you gain some compliance when you want to release the tail edge.

If there’s one drawback to the changes to the FX line, it’s slower to moderate speed maneuverability. The previous ski with its slightly softer flex pattern was a little easier to wiggle around when you took it into tight terrain. Enter the ZX100. The ZX100 is a brand-new ski for 2022 that focuses way more on playfulness and maneuverability than the FX line ever could or should. With that ski in the line and the existing MX98, it feels like they’re perfectly positioned the FX96 Ti right in between them. A nice blend of stability and maneuverability, and skiers that want to focus on one of the other can decide if they want to move towards the ZX or MX line or stick with the more-well-rounded FX96 Ti.

Overall, we like that they put metal back in this ski. It kind of feels weird, because over the past two years we’ve been saying things like “this ski is really fun, turns out the FX didn’t need metal.” While that’s true, it didn’t necessarily need metal, it turns out we still like it in there. For those who prefer the softer-flexing, more easy-going non-metal version, we still have a handful left in stock, and that ski is still really good, especially for those lighter, less aggressive skiers who won’t benefit from the metal as much as some.

2022 Kastle FX 96 Ti Ski Review: Buy Now Image

Written by Jeff Neagle on 06/17/21

6 thoughts on “2022 Kastle FX 96 Ti Ski Review

  1. Hi!
    Thank you for the in depth look! The knowledge is super valuable I am so grateful!
    I have the old fx96hp and just bought the FX96 Hp - but my wife is super excited about it and so I need another ski 🙂
    I am super exited to hear about the fx86ti !!!
    Have you tested it yet?

    1. HI Rob!
      YUP! Tested and appreciated--especially since the older FX86 wasn't quite the expert ripper that I'd hoped it was. The 2022 86 is a lot more powerful. We'll certainly have it in our comparison reviews, and as shorter ski test video, so keep your eyes out for those! Have fun!
      SE

  2. Really excited about this ski. Loved the last two versions (including non-HP and last year’s HP). How would you say this compares to the mantra M6 in 177 and 184 for mixed terrain - bumps, tight trees, and vibration damping on groomers. Love the M6 in 184 but it was nowhere near as easy as last year’s FX96 (non-metal) in tighter/techy terrain.

    1. HI MD12!
      We were all pretty impressed with the new 96 Ti. Same can be said for the M6, but I found the M6 to still be just a bit on the stiff side for bumps and tight trees. That said, it's still a bit more dominant on the front side and a damper ski overall, but the updates to the Kastle put it right up there with the M6. The shovel of the new 96 is the biggest difference to me, as I found last year's version to be on the flexible side for a ski of that caliber. Have fun!
      SE

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